Community leaders from the various localities went to school Thursday night. Literally.
Elected officials gathered at Mount Airy High School for their informal gathering in the media center of the school to fellowship, have a bite to eat and learn a little something about public education.
The event was part of an ongoing gathering of elected officials, a tradition one said is invaluable.
“I’ve found them to be very educational over the years,” said Kate Appler, who serves on the Mount Airy School Board. “I’ve learned things at these meetings not just about our local community, but future plans as a region. I’ve appreciated their choice of speakers and how it enhances the county as a whole, and I’m glad we continue doing it.”
The event kicked off during dinner, as the Mount Airy High School Show Choir, under the leadership of Gena Ray, performed a selection of Christmas tunes.
Following dinner, Mount Airy School Superintendent Dr. Greg Little told the group that he wanted to speak for a moment about public education.
“For the past several years, it’s been tough to be an educator in North Carolina,” he said. “But even with those challenges, we have teachers who come to work every single day with the singular goal of serving and educating students.”
Little paused to show a brief presentation where he asked parents, students and staff members what they love about the public schools.
“Because you get to work and learn stuff,” one elementary school girl said.
“I like that I can come to a place that’s safe, where I have a lot of friends,” said another. “It’s kind of like I’m home at school. Everyone is amazing.”
Parents touted things like graduation rates, safety and the importance of community involvement in the school system.
“This is the future of our nation,” Little said when the presentation was over. “For me, public education is about the transformation of a life.”
He noted that a quality public education can transform future generations.
“I see it as a pathway to greatness, where every child is given the opportunity to be great,” Little said. “We encourage students to dream big, nurture those dreams and sometimes even turn them into reality.”
In closing, Little said he is worried about hiring quality teachers in the future.
“Our investment in public schools has never been more important,” he said, noting the state is at the bottom in teacher pay. “I believe that in about five years, we’re going to see a real crisis in bringing quality teachers to North Carolina.
“Think about your children and grandchildren,” Little concluded. “Who do you want teaching them in the classroom?”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.